Weddings are not marriages, and I wish they were. Weddings are to marriage as a single bamboo shoot is to a jungle, as a seashell is to the ocean floor: nice enough, not unrepresentative, and almost totally irrelevant. Marriage is all about the long road, about terror and disappointment, about recovery and contentment, about passions of all kinds. Weddings are about a party– which is why I think marriage should be approached with blinking yellow lights, orange safety cones, and all other signs of great caution, and weddings should be encouraged as things apart. Why should we expect that looking pretty in white (or the flattering color of your choice) and doing a credible fox-trot has anything to do with staying calm in the face of resentful indifference, selective deafness, Oedipal disorders, or horrible stepchildren? It should be enough, it seems to me, to look as good as one can and enjoy the party. Brides who cannot enjoy their own weddings are either possessed of too much knowledge (this marriage is a mistake) or too much something else (like women who scream when the bouquet has one too many sprigs of baby’s breath). I wish that crazy, over-the-top weddings (doves dyed pink, twin elephants, wedding favors from Gucci, and Handel’s “Water Music” played by Yo-Yo Ma) led to marriages that were extravagant celebrations of love, that the excess foretold a lifetime of generosity, sensuality, and matching elephants of kindness and loyalty. I wish that simple little weddings, barefoot in a cranberry bog, with ten friends as witnesses, would lead to a life in which less is really more and stays that way. Marriage requires common sense, self-awareness, compatible senses of humor (Jackie Mason will not be happy with Oscar Wilde, although Bernie Mac might be), compatible sex drives, and enough, but not too much, perseverance. Weddings, on the other hand, offer just a day’s happiness, and require only a willingness to dance– even badly– and embrace the world and big love for a short time.
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